Obama and the Middle East

There’s an interesting op-ed piece up on The Nation today concerning the steps that Obama can and should undertake in order to roll back the Bush administration’s “War on Terror.” Concerning the Bush administration’s policy it writes that:

Unfortunately, from the start the United States conflated its lone real enemy, Al Qaeda, with a panoply of unrelated states and organizations, some Islamist and some secular, creating a mythical bloc of evil-doers under the heading of what John McCain called, redundantly, “radical Islamic extremism.” In the mix, Bush rolled up Iran, Saddam’s Iraq, Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabis, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Taliban, various Pakistani Islamist groups, and others into one big terrorist ball of wax. Predictably, and aided by the anti-Muslim prejudices of the Christian right, it became a Crusade against Islam, at least in as seen through the lens of people living in the Middle East and South Asia. No wonder that anti-American sentiment throughout the region reached all-time highs.

To me this seems to be the most significant thing that Obama can work toward changing. Regardless of whether he continues the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and irrespective of what his policy on the Israel/Gaza conflict is he needs to clarify that the United States is not waging a war against Islam, but rather a war against those that seek disruption and violence. This is something that the Bush administration left all too vague at points and consequently led to the perception that the U.S. was waging a “Crusade against Islam.”

Link via Obama and the Middle East, Part I.